McCaul: DHS Spending 'More Money' on Climate Change Than Combating Violent Extremists

By Susan Jones | May 11, 2015 | 4:50 AM EDT

( - Rep.  Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, says the current "threat environment" is as high as he's ever seen it, and although the U.S. has "done a very good job" in preventing terror attacks in the U.S., he doesn't think the Obama administration "has done enough" to counter "homegrown violent extremism."

McCaul noted that President Obama's budget "allocates zero dollars towards combating homegrown violent extremism.

"In fact, within the Department of Homeland Security, more money, in fact, millions of dollars, are dedicated to climate change rather than combating what I consider to be one of the biggest threats to the homeland, and that's the violent extremists radicalizing Islamist terrorists -- radicalizing over the Internet, in the United States of America."

McCaul said he agrees with the Pentagon's decision to raise the threat level at all U.S. military bases last week, even though there is no specific, credible threat.

"I think there's been an uptick in the threat streams out there -- the level of chatter, Internet calls to arms, if you will, to light up potential ISIS followers potentially in the United States, and attack military installations.

"We're seeing these directives almost like on a daily basis. It's very concerning."

McCaul spoke to "Fox News Sunday" from France, where he was meeting with counterterrorism experts about stopping radicalized Islamists from returning to Europe and the West from Iraq and Syria.

"The big security gap we've discovered in our delegation over here, in traveling to the Middle East and now here, are the 40 million people going through Istanbul and Turkey, the lack of screening of individuals leaving Turkey to Europe. And then, Chris, the lack of ability to screen European citizens past a watch list similar to what we have, or a no-fly list.

"This really opens Europe wide open to foreign fighters who can travel from the Middle East, and particularly through Turkey, which is the jihadist super-highway, into Western Europe. And so, what we're trying to do is meet with these officials to see, how can we close these security gaps so we can keep these foreign fighters both out of Europe and also the United States?"

The congressman noted that the attempted terror attack in Garland, Texas was stopped because law enforcement was monitoring the Internet and picked up the threat.

He also said the National Security Agency's bulk telephone metadata program has helped.

Under that program, the U.S. government, since 2006, has collected and stored information about the phone calls made by Americans. Last week, a federal appeals court in New York ruled unanimously that the massive data collection program “exceeds the scope of what Congress has authorized."

McCaul said when he was a federal prosecutor, he went to the phone companies to get certain telephone records and had no trouble obtaining them.

"I think you're going to see a Patriot Act reauthorization in the Congress that will allow this data not to be stored under the government, under NSA, but rather to go back to the telecom carriers in the private sector where we can -- if there's probable cause, that we can get that information through that avenue rather than having all this metadata under the federal government.

"I think that's where you're going to see the Congress headed towards, and the courts have certainly gone in that direction..."

"Certainly, the program has helped, but I think as long as we can get that information in real time through the private sector, I think that debate between privacy and security, I think we can forge, I think the right balance between the two."

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